Evaluating Open-Source Software Communities

Seth Gottlieb writes one of those blog posts I wish I’d written, on evaluating an open-source software community.

The community will influence your experience of the software and shape the application’s future. If you are used to commercial software selection, the concept of “community” is probably alien to you. You may be used to reading analyst reports about market share and corporate financials. “Community” feels squishy and qualitative by comparison. Even though the information that can be used to evaluate a community is visible, it takes some work to gather and interpret it.

Seth’s key community indicators are:

  • General activity level (especially bug reporting activity)
  • Vision and priority setting (for product enhancements & updates)
  • Leadership – especially the demonstrated ability to develop, promote and renew leadership
  • Execution – clear rules and standards that define how to produce quality code, and mechanisms for making sure the procedures are followed.
  • Participation – especially openness to new participants and non-technical forms of participation
  • Economic Ecosystem – does the project have a strong base of economic activity that is supporting it? Are people making money?

Great post, Seth. Thanks.